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Coping with Life Stresses while in Recovery

answered 07:32 PM EST, Sat April 06, 2013
anonymous anonymous
I am 4 weeks out of rehab and in recovery from a polydrug addiction of cocaine, marijuana and of course alcohol. My boyfriend just got diagnosed with colon cancer. He is only 58. I am 44, if that matters. I am feeling very precarious. We had been together for 3 months before rehab. He was the one who convinced me to finally do what I knew I needed to do. He told me and tried to end the relationship. He says it’s too much for me to have to deal with him when I should be dealing with myself. I told him he was crazy but now that I am thinking about it I am not sure I can handle this. How do I stay with him and go through this without relapsing?

Loren Gelberg-Goff Says...

I'm so glad that you are reaching out for guidance.  Understand that the primary reason people become addicted to anything is to keep them away from their feelings.  You've been avoiding your pain for some time now and only recently working on letting yourself tolerate your pain and challenges... Having your boyfriend begin a journey to deal with his health and well-being means there will have to be a great deal of honesty and openness going forward for both of you.  AND this is also a new relationship when you are presumably both still learning about each other. 

That said, I am wondering how much support either of you have other than each other?  It is imperative that you continue with meetings and therapy in order to truly honor your recovery.  There are also support groups for people with cancer, whether it's through the hospital where he is being treated or through Cancer Care, Gilda's Club, or finding a local group together that meets in person or on-line.  There are a number of options. 

You must both be really honest with each other about your needs, feelings, hopes and goals.  I cannot tell you if you should end the relationship now or not; I can only recommend that you look at these various issues, concerns and fears, and the discuss your options and goals.  I don't know where you live, but I know that Cancer Care has services throughout the country and since recovery and cancer are big issues for people today there are a number of valuable resources on the Internet.  IF you are feeling shaky in terms of your recovery and your ability to stay focused on caring for your needs, then these are valid issues to talk about with a counselor and with your boyfriend.  You both have significant life struggles to address and face, and many times they can be best handled together IF you are both honest, clear, direct and open.  The decisions you make that are for your greater good are not about your boyfriend, they are about YOU. 

I give you a lot of credit that you got yourself into rehab and want to stay drug free and that you did this with your boyfriend's encouragement says that there's been good communication between both of you up until now.  Please look at the following issues as you move forward:

1. What are your goals for yourself and your relationship?

2. What is your recovery status?

3. what is the status of your boyfriend's health and treatment plans?

4. To help with recovery and handling the urges, you might consider neurofeedback (you can get lots of information about it at eeginfo.com )

5. If you and your boyfriend would like to stay together, then I would also suggest couples counseling with a therapist who specializes in working with people with addictions and their families.

I hope that this is helpful to you as you move forward in your life in a meaningful and positive way.

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Page last updated Apr 07, 2013

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